In my memory, Van Gogh has always been golden yellow, but this book isn't about oil painting. It's all about Van Gogh's drawings. With only black andIn my memory, Van Gogh has always been golden yellow, but this book isn't about oil painting. It's all about Van Gogh's drawings. With only black and white, the books talks about lines and compositions of Van Gogh's artistic style....more
This is a book about the leadership of Pep Guardiola in a century old game, soccer. The more a reader has been following the soccer game, the more he/This is a book about the leadership of Pep Guardiola in a century old game, soccer. The more a reader has been following the soccer game, the more he/she is going to learn from Pep. ...more
A wonderful documentation of the recent development of ExxonMobil. The book clearly delineates what "private empire" means in a democratic country, buA wonderful documentation of the recent development of ExxonMobil. The book clearly delineates what "private empire" means in a democratic country, but in a business where resource nationalism is popular. The story of how ExxonMobil navigates through the maze of resource nationalism and personal profitability was a myth to me, but now turns to my confidence in this company in defining the world's energy roadmap. Overall, I strongly recommend reading this book. ...more
I've read many books about WWII. Those by winners, like Winston Churchill, tend to emphasize they win because they outmaneuver Hitler. Those by losersI've read many books about WWII. Those by winners, like Winston Churchill, tend to emphasize they win because they outmaneuver Hitler. Those by losers tend to underestimate Hitler's leadership. This book by Sebastian is quite neutral, which is what makes me read to the end.
One very inspiring point from Sebastian is why Hitler is so successful between 1938 and 1940. Sebastian's point is Hitler did not change while his adversaries underperformed, both in Germany and in Europe. I tend to agree to this point as I constantly find it hard be believe that Hitler's success is a consequence of his early career or any of his newly developed skills. He had been good at speaking before he was the nation's dictator. It may be reasonable to conclude that the environment of the fragmented Europe called upon a leader to redefine a new order of Europe, and inversely Hitler's unique characteristics define the new Europe in such an unexpected way.
Hitler's grand failure is another great topic. From Sebastian's viewpoint, he failed mainly because of his stubborn attitude toward the Jews. The Jewish people, in Sebastian's point, had been in great alliance with the Germany before Weimar Republic. Hitler's animosity towards Jews distanced the latter from the Germany and accelerated Germany's failure. This explanation is new to me and sounds reasonable. But if we stick with the former explanation of Hitler's success that he succeed because of his under-performing adversaries, can we explore the possibility that he failed because of his adversaries were doing the right thing? Probably such explanation may be insufficient to explain all the details, but it does shed light on the statistical nature of the history....more
The book is about the rise and fall of the Bell Laboratory. Bell Lab makes the transition into the digital era a reality through their ingenious scienThe book is about the rise and fall of the Bell Laboratory. Bell Lab makes the transition into the digital era a reality through their ingenious scientists, such as Bardeen, Shockley, and Shannon. To match Bell Lab's philosophy of managing ideas rather than employees, the book is composed of the discovery or invention of transistors, information theory, fiber optics and others.
Everyone today feels the impact of the transistors. The book answers how transistors come into being. In particular, when we read about the inventor of the transistors, Shockley, it's inevitable that we will be attracted to read Shockley's life. Shockley is an ingenious scientist, but is terrible at management. It's exciting to see great things coming out of his lab, but sorry to hear that he passed away almost lonely.
One riveting fact about Bell Lab is its uncompromised support for fundamental research. A lot of researchers in the Bell Lab are eventually awarded the Nobel Prize. This uncompromised support for fundamental research brought AT&T, Bell Lab's mother company, with astounding profits during the transitional era into the digital era. However, at the end of the book, Jon Gertner points out that fundamental research costs quite a lot, but results in limited profits. It's unlikely that a private institution can sustain such extravagant investment in fundamental research.
An interesting inference from the aforementioned phenomena is that in the supposedly capitalistic world, the market, mainly start ups, are increasingly relying on government-supported research for technologies. This may be another useful evidence to defend against market fundamentalists.
There are a lot more to reflect on how Bell Lab succeeded, and whether the success is a result of serendipity or inevitability. Reading this book is an enjoyable way to think about these questions. ...more
Several stories of Google are really inspiring to potential or active entrepreneurs.
The first story is that Google did not monopolize the search engiSeveral stories of Google are really inspiring to potential or active entrepreneurs.
The first story is that Google did not monopolize the search engine patent. Instead, Google has many competitors with similar value proposition. Even Yanhong Li, Baidu's founder, had the search engine patent two years' earlier than Google. Other competitors in the US are Goto and others. This fact that the vision is shared by many independent entrepreneurs tells us that great companies start not by monopolizing the vision but providing the best product.
The second story is about ads. Google provides the best service on sorting out information, but Google does not charge for searching. They redirect their revenue source to ads, and make the best advertising business model online. Google inspires a lot of business innovations on IT entrepreneurship. A lot of contemporary IT startups attract a lot of page views, but have generate little revenues. I think these startups have their belief in Google's business model and thus firmly believe they will eventually make money.
The third inspiring story is about don't be evil. As an engineer myself, I really share this value, and I hope they can stick with this value even when Google's financial conditions are not as good....more
This biography is absolutely more real than the movie of the same name. The life of John Nash is filled with so many interesting stories, ranging from This biography is absolutely more real than the movie of the same name. The life of John Nash is filled with so many interesting stories, ranging from schizophrenia, homosexuality, a tragic son to Nobel laureate. It is beyond a novelist's imagination.
Nash's career started with success and glory. But he has an unsatisfied desire for recognition. But it conflicted with his arrogant personality. This eventually resulted in unfulfilled recognition of Nash's work by colleagues before Nash fell into schizophrenia. It's interesting to know more about the stories of Nash during that period and propose one's own idea how he fell into schizophrenia.
BTW, in the unabridged version of the biography, Nash also have affairs with several men, which is interesting. But stories like these lack details and readers are not expected to know his thoughts in detail.
Nash's recovery from schizophrenia is another amazing story. Nash's loyal and loving wife probably has played a critical role in his recovery. His fighting against schizophrenia is definitely intriguing. More intriguing is how he fellows and previous colleagues have assisted him.
A defect of this biography is that the biography lack more interesting details. The main reference seams to be Nash's Nobel autobiography. The author lacks interviews from Nash's friends and relatives....more
The book tells the story of a genius who is a dissenter to but a loyal supporter of his country. The book focuses more on Oppenheimer's political life The book tells the story of a genius who is a dissenter to but a loyal supporter of his country. The book focuses more on Oppenheimer's political life rather than scientific life. It's a pity we know Oppenheimer first as a theoretical physicist and then as a political figure. This, I judge, is the main defect of this biography. Overall, the book still provides some intriguing stories worthy of our time.
The most remarkable story is the 1954 Security Hearing. This hearing is a debate about how dissent and disloyalty should be differentiated. In particular, when considering key positions in the government, should we include dissenters? Oppenheimer's performance in the Manhattan Project informs us that dissent is different from disloyalty and dissenters could still be highly loyal when national security is concerned. The whole story, including what had happened before 1954, is the most precious part of this book.
The second interesting story is about how Oppenheimer managed the atomic bomb project at Los Alamos. Oppenheimer, as the author points out, is not a people who is going to independently work out everything in detail. He was a leader who was active in team work and contributed always constructively to his team. This is the kind of team spirit we still value today.
The last intriguing story is about Oppenheimer's vision on managing atomic weapons through international cooperation. Unfortunately, he passed away before his vision come true(This has always been the result of great visionaries). Oppenheimer's fighting during those McCarthy era teaches us how great people stick with their visions. ...more
"Read no history-nothing but biography-for that is life without theory"-Benjamin Disraeli. I think this quote summaries the right way to understand Ste"Read no history-nothing but biography-for that is life without theory"-Benjamin Disraeli. I think this quote summaries the right way to understand Steve Jobs....more